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Lessons from the fall of the Berlin Wall are relevant today

Lessons from the fall of the Berlin Wall are relevant today

A time of prayer in commemoration of the fall of the Berlin Wall and all the walls and divisions that are yet to overcome took place next to the pieces of the Berlin Wall in the garden of the Ecumenical Center in Geneva.

05 November 2009

Twenty years ago in East Germany, "Christian hope and perseverance contributed significantly to the fall of the Berlin Wall", said World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia. Commenting on the 20th anniversary of the event that brought to an end the "cold war era", Kobia stressed: the people who "gathered in the churches and became the nucleus for the movement of change […] taught us that Christian faith can inspire a resistance movement against fatalism and despair - a lesson which is as important today as it was twenty years ago".

The full text of the WCC general secretary comment follows:

Christian hope and perseverance contributed significantly to the fall of the Berlin Wall twenty years ago. A movement that started with prayers and candle light vigils in the Saint Nicolas Church in the centre of Leipzig spread all over East Germany and inspired and encouraged people to confront the power of police and secret service in a very effective and peaceful way. The church in the former German Democratic Republic offered an inclusive space to people in search of freedom and a spiritual home.

When we celebrate today twenty years of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which marked the end of the cold war era, let us remember the faith and the courage of all those people who gathered in the churches and became the nucleus for the movement of change. They taught us that Christian faith can inspire a resistance movement against fatalism and despair - a lesson which is as important today as it was twenty years ago. There are still many walls separating humankind: the "Demilitarized Zone" between North and South Korea, the "Security Wall" on the occupied territory in Palestine, but also the walls of injustice, racism and prejudice that separate rich and poor, stigmatize persons suffering from HIV and AIDS and destroy the lives of many people.

See also:

Konrad Raiser on "The fall of the Berlin Wall and its meaning for the ecumenical movement"

Feature story: "The Berlin Wall fell in many places"